Deanna Raybourn / Reading Group Guide: Silent in the Sanctuary

3/9/09

Silent in the Sanctuary

Deanna Raybourn, calling upon a captivating cast of characters, transports us into the complex and rarified world of the Victorian aristocracy. Dark deeds are afoot, as the March family and friends reunite for Christmas at the family estate in Sussex, only to find a murderer roaming its halls. The questions and discussion topics that follow will, we hope, enhance your enjoyment of this remarkable book.

Reading Group Questions

  1. The relationship between Lady Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane remains an unconventional one. What are their long-term prospects for happiness together?

  2. How does Lady Julia resist the conventions of her time?

  3. Bellmont Abbey is a place with a long and interesting history. How does the setting contribute to the atmosphere of the book?

  4. The relationship between sisters is a recurring theme in this book. Compare the relationship between Julia and Portia with that of Lucy and Emma.

  5. Alessandro Fornacci offers Julia a different life than the one she is currently leading. Could she have been happy accepting his proposal?

  6. The Marches seem to have an overly romanticized view of Gypsy life. Discuss the ways in which the presence of Gypsies has an impact on the inhabitants of Bellmont Abbey.

  7. Several characters in the book—Ludlow, Sir Cedric, Lucian Snow--have experienced life-altering changes that have taken them out of the circumstances into which they were born. Have these changes made them better men or worse?

  8. Emma and Lucy were raised poor on the fringes of a wealthy, noble family. How has this perspective as outsiders looking in shaped their characters?

  9. Julia’s gift of the pearls to Magda is an unexpected and generous gesture. Was it the right thing to do? Could there be unexpected ramifications from giving such a gift?

  10. The story of Mariah Young gives the reader greater insight into Nicholas Brisbane’s early life. What impact has this had on him as an adult?

  11. Charlotte King is a thief, but an engaging one. What makes her sympathetic to the reader?

  12. Julia’s decision to let Charlotte King go means Nicholas has lost his chance at a title. Why might he have wanted one?

  13. Julia discovers Nicholas has risked his own life to help her father, sustaining a bullet wound to the shoulder in the process. What is the nature of his relationship with Lord March?

  14. How does Julia handle Plum’s infatuation with his sister-in-law? Is the advice she gives him the best advice she could give under the circumstances?

  15. Ludlow claims to have murdered Lucian Snow on Emma’s behalf. Were there other motives for his actions?

  16. Julia and Aunt Dorcas decide not to tell Lord March about Emma’s involvement in the murder of Lucian Snow. Was keeping this a secret, the right decision? How does the decision directly affect Emma, Lucy and Sir Cedric?